I’ve always believed that, in our society, every citizen should have access to good health care. For that reason, I began providing my employees with health insurance as soon as I could afford it. Then, one day, I learned that an employee had gone to a hospital emergency room. I was concerned, but when I saw him the next day, he said he’d just had a cough and wanted it checked out. “But we give you health insurance,” I said.
“Nah,” he answered. “We don’t use that. We just go to the emergency room.”
I did some investigating and discovered that many of my employees weren’t using their health insurance. I thought maybe it was because they didn't help pay for it. So I announced a new policy: The company would cover 80 percent of the health insurance cost for any employee who wanted it. The employee would have to pay the rest -; about $5 per week. Eighty percent opted out. I couldn’t believe it. When I questioned people, they told me they didn’t need the insurance. They already had free health care at the emergency room.
For Obamacare to succeed, it will need to induce young, healthy people to buy insurance. My experience shows just how hard it’s going to be to get any healthy, uninsured people--young or old--to sign up. Meanwhile, the law will at least relieve start-ups of responsibility for employees’ health coverage.
That’s one less thing you’ll have to think about in launching a business. Moreover, to the extent that Obamacare complicates life for your larger competitors, it may even give you a slight edge. You may also find it a little easier to attract talent, because providing health insurance will no longer be a competitive advantage. It all helps.
Start-up thoughts from senior contributing editor and veteran entrepreneur Norm Brodsky.
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